A Night on the Town in Augusta

In need of a night out or simply in need of a cocktail (or two – we won’t tell!)? Less than two hours from Atlanta, Augusta, Georgia, quenches the thirst for a good time with these must-visit watering holes.

Craft and Vine

The house rules at Craft and Vine brings an old-school Southern vibe to one of Augusta’s hottest nighttime spots.
Credit: Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Craft and Vine offers an upscale vibe and is tucked away on Broad Street. It’s the newest addition to Augusta’s Frog Hollow Hospitality Group, which also founded the city’s popular Farmhaus Burger and Frog Hollow Tavern. Expect dinner and a show – albeit not the typical performance. Bartenders evoke a “wow” factor while stirring old-timey drinks and shaking cocktails. Dishes meet big-city expectations without the associated metropolitan hassles. Plus, it’s one of the only places in Augusta featuring enomatic machines, or wine on drip, making it possible to savor sips of finer wines by the glass for tastings. There are no reservations, and, preserving the sometimes overlooked art of etiquette, house rules apply here: no cell phone usage inside, but texting is fine; please be patient (craft drinks are an art and take time to create – but are totally worth it); and, proper attire is required.

Hive Growler Bar

A mind-boggling number of taps at Hive Growler Bar will quench thirst no matter what you crave.
Credit: Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Think outside the pub with the Hive Growler Bar, Augusta’s newest night spot and an authentic tap house. Featuring locally- and regionally-sourced food like the city’s beloved The Bee’s Knees (same owners), it’s the bar’s beer, wine and craft cocktail selection that set it apart. Take a gander and you might think you’re seeing double before the first sip: 73 taps featuring more than 50 beer taps, 10 wine taps, five craft soda taps and five custom-made cocktail taps adorn the walls. You won’t find bottled or canned beer here. It’s all fresh and flowing. Taps change so often and the owners are so into sustainability that you will not find a printed tap list. But do not fear, big screen TVs display the most current tap lists, as does the bar’s website.

Experience Augusta like a local. Surrey Tavern is the neighborhood bar. Located in Surrey Center, this haunt is Augusta’s best kept secret – where the locals go. They’re famous for their laid-back atmosphere; an outdoor patio and live music set the tone for a great night for you and your friends.

Le Chat Noir is an intimate 100-seat black box theatre and lounge that is host to a variety of shows and events. Performances include classics like Les Miserables or Sweeney Todd. Night owls might enjoy Schrodinger’s Cat, Augusta’s premiere comedy improv troupe, during their eXtreme Theatre Games every First Friday.  Watch comedy performed on the spot as two teams of crack improvisers battle it out in the continuing quest for comedic domination. If you love Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Improvaganza, or other improv comedy shows, this is your spot.


From bachelorettes to bachelors, couples to singles, Augusta’s variety of night spots makes it easy for everyone to enjoy a night on the town.
Credit: Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Feel the beat at Sky City, Augusta’s 500-capacity live music venue located in downtown. With an eclectic line-up each month there’s something on the set to satisfy every musical taste. Sky City also features themed nights like 80s Night during the first Friday of each month. What’s better than pulling out the leggings, oversized shirts with shirt clips, teasing your hair and listening to a little Duran Duran or Journey?

The Soul Bar features live music and is named appropriately for The Godfather of Soul and Augusta native, Mr. James Brown. Hang out, have a drink, or stop by and see a local band bring down the house. The Soul Bar is also famous for its theme nights. Favorites include 80s Night, 90s Night, Pop Life or Disc Hell. The theme nights will take you back, way back – and have you coming back to Augusta.


katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Fantastic Fort Mountain

Fort Mountain ViewA scenic drive through Georgia’s Historic High Country leads us to a little slice of heaven on Fort Mountain. This state park, hidden in the hills of Chatsworth, is quickly becoming one of my favorite getaways. In addition to the incredible views from overlooks, Fort Mountain State Park boasts one of the most challenging Muddy Spokes mountain biking trails and the 8-mile Gahuti Trail connecting secluded backcountry campsites.CandyCook_ftMtnGahudiTrail

The hiking trails of Fort Mountain range from easy to strenuous. For really amazing views, take a stroll down the easy, paved Cool Springs Trail or hike to an overlook deck on a combination of the West Overlook-Stone Tower Trails. More experienced hikers will appreciate backpacking on the more difficult Gahuti Trail. Gahuti is a beautiful, yet strenuous hike often used by hikers preparing for the Appalachian Trail.

Mountain bikers of all ages and experience levels enjoy taking on 27 miles of thrill riding at the park. Multi-use Lake Loop Trail offers an easy warm-up shared with hikers, while the Gold Mine and Cool Springs Loops cater to more advanced riders looking for a fun roller coaster ride through the forest. Finally, one of the last Muddy Spokes trails a mountain biker completes, the East/West Loop offers a wild and rocky ride for the experts. CandyCook_FtMountainSwim

A Fort Mountain escape isn’t complete without a refreshing dip in the cool mountain lake, a round of mini golf, and perfecting s’mores as the moonlight shines through those magnificent Georgia pines. Pack up the tent and run away to Fort Mountain this weekend!

candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

5 Ways to Celebrate Great Outdoors Month

Great Outdoors Month

Sweetwater Creek State Park

June is Great Outdoors Month and Georgia is celebrating with fun activities all over the state. It’s the best time to explore Georgia’s natural beauty, learn new outdoor skills, and roast marshmallows by the campfire.

Georgia’s Free Fishing Day
National Boating & Fishing Week begins June 6th and continues through the week. Georgia goes fishing all month long with special events at State Parks and Public Fishing Areas. Visit the Go Fish Education Center for some fishing tips, and head out on June 6 & 13 to give it a try. These are Georgia’s “Free Fishing Days,” when fishing licenses aren’t required.

Stone Mountain Camp

Stone Mountain Camp

National Trails Day
June 6th marks National Trails Day! Georgia celebrates our state’s beautiful trail systems with group hikes, guided nature walks, canoe trips, and volunteer trail cleanups. Discover a new trail on this list of events.

Get Outdoors Day
Visit Smithgall Woods State Park, in Helen, for a family-friendly Get Outdoors Day. Visitors will try outdoor sports, meet live animals, and learn about Georgia’s environment in the gorgeous Northeast Georgia Mountains.

Father’s Day
Beat the heat and take Dad on an exciting adventure in Columbus, Georgia! There’s no better way to thrill Dad than riding the rapids or ziplining with Whitewater Express. After the excitement, enjoy a relaxing stroll on the Chattahoochee Riverwalk.

Whitewater Kayaker in Columbus

Whitewater Kayaker in Columbus

Great American Backyard Campout
This super fun annual campout invites families to give camping a chance. Experienced campers can find their perfect backcountry campsite at Chattahoochee Bend or Providence Canyon. First Time Campers can reserve spots at Red Top Mountain and Skidaway Island State Parks. These two parks are part of the First Time Camper program that lends a tent and camping gear. Stone Mountain Park also offers a first-time camping experience, “Ready, Set, Camp,” offering gear and help to set up camp.


candycookCandy is Georgia’s official Outdoor Explorer and the author of the blog “Happy Trails Wild Tales.” Click here for more Outdoor content from Candy.

5 Easy Waterfall Hikes for Georgia Families

Fall Branch Falls

Fall Branch Falls

Summer is a time for exploring in nature. Add these five easy waterfall hikes to your adventure bucket list.

Anna Ruby Falls. Two falls are visible from the observation deck, merging into a beautiful creek. The paved walk (stroller-friendly) is lined with boulders and flowering shrubs. Bring change for the fish feeder just outside the visitor center; my kids could not get enough of the jumping trout. You’re adjacent to Unicoi park, offering hikes, a beach and canoe rental.

Amicalola Falls. Little legs will likely not enjoy a climb from bottom to top, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. Drive to the middle of the falls and take a short walk to the bridge overlooking the falls. My son was about 4 years old before we decided to climb the stairs from middle of the falls to the bottom, and then back up.  I carried the baby in a sling. Advanced hikers can also climb up from the middle falls.

Helton Creek

Helton Creek

Fall Branch Falls. This gem is tucked away in Blue Ridge, Ga. The walk is wonderful, with towering trees and beautiful large stones greeting you. You’ll follow the creek all the way to the falls. There are an upper falls and lower falls here. Don’t miss the upper falls like I did. We visited the lower falls and played in the water, but didn’t learn about the upper falls until we were back home.

Helton Creek Falls. From the parking lot you are only about 1/3 mile from the lower falls. Wear your suite, there is a great water play area here. It is one of our favorite summer spots; we bring a picnic, books and shovels for a day of fun. Don’t miss a climb to the upper falls, also. I don’t recommend taking the kids out to the water in this area, but it is fun to view from the deck.

High Shoals Falls. There is a High Shoals Falls near Helen, Ga that is lovely, but this waterfall selection is in Dallas, Ga. Your GPS will take you to the parking lot of an old graveyard. Have no fear, just follow the trail about .25 miles to the falls. Have a picnic, play in the water and have a grand time. You can even climb to the top of the falls like we did!


LesliLesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

A Guide to Georgia’s Homestyle Restaurants

The Dillard House

The Dillard House

For Breakfast

Not all homestyle restaurants in Georgia serve breakfast, but when you’re looking for the combination of the two, you’ll need to visit the Dillard House in Dillard. The Dillard House serves up a bountiful breakfast of meats, eggs, potato hash, fresh fruits, homemade preserves, freshly baked pastries and so much more. My favorites are the proteins, and I always have to have seconds of the pork tenderloin. The Dillard House is one of those “food for the soul” kinds of places, and besides breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start your day right by feeding your soul well here. Go with high expectations because you’re sure not to be disappointed.


Buckner’s Family Restaurant

For Fried Chicken and Dessert

One common menu item at all homestyle restaurants in the South is fried chicken. I doubt it’s written law that they have to have fried chicken (and lots of it) on the table, but I’m pretty sure it’s understood. Believe me, I’ve eaten a lot of fried chicken at a lot of great restaurants, but the best fried chicken I’ve eaten in Georgia to date is at Buckner’s in Jackson. Buckner’s is just off I-75 exit 201, and they serve up some of the most delicious Southern classics you can find. While normally I’d go for a leg or thigh, you’ll only find breast on the table at Buckner’s. Breast meat tends to be dry, but Buckner’s keeps its white meat juicy, tender and perfectly crispy. There’s a slight sweetness to it that I’ve not found duplicated anywhere else in Georgia. To top it all off, their dessert is fantastic, too. They only serve one dessert, but they do it right. Buckner’s Georgia peach cobbler is the perfect finish to one tasty meal.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

For Sides

You can expect a wide array of incredible veggies and carbs at the homestyle table, but no one cooks sides as well as Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room in Savannah. Mrs. Wilkes’ showcases all sorts of fresh veggies like green beans, rutabagas, butter beans, peas and more. They’re even getting cornbread dressing right; it’s incredibly moist and super delicious. Mrs. Wilkes’ cabbage was some of the finest I’ve ever eaten. This homestyle restaurant is one of those places where you could definitely fill up on sides alone. Expect to wait in line for up to a couple of hours, but you and your taste buds will be glad you did.

For Extras

Once you’ve had the best breakfast, the best chicken and dessert, and the best sides, what’s left on the table? Well, the Smith House in Dahlonega is taking the table extras to a whole new level. You’re going to consistently get great chicken, great sides and dessert, but you’re also going to get some great extras. One of my favorite accompaniments to Southern fare is relishes and pickles. The Smith house makes and serves up the best pickled squash you’ll find. It perfectly pairs with the savory veggies and offers a slightly tangy, sweet crunch that you just can’t find elsewhere. You’ll want to take some home, too. Look in the gift shop before you leave to make sure you can have this “secret” treasure at your home table.

Head shotLori Hennesy is a self-proclaimed foodie and author of delisghga.com, a Georgia only food blog.  Lori is on a constant search for unique eats, great Georgia products, delicious restaurants and anything food related.  For Lori it’s all about the bottom line, “what’s the next meal going to be?”